Richard Hofeld is the mayor of the south suburb Homewood. On Sunday he was enjoying a walk with his wife and two dogs at the Izaak Walton Preserve. But then the unthinkable happened.
The dog had wandered away off of its leash when the collar broke off. That’s when it fell into the frozen lake.
“There had been a shelf of ice from the shore about 30 feet out, and beyond that was open water and she had gone across that shelf of ice and was in the water,” Hofeld said. He had left his cell phone in the car and couldn’t call for help.
At that point, the 80-year-old mayor also fell into the frozen lake in an attempt to save his black labrador, Annie. He rescued the 100-pound dog but didn’t have the strength to get himself out of the water.
Thankfully, a man was jogging in the area. He saw the situation and called 911. While waiting for emergency responders, the man made a using a shirt and a couple jackets.
Overall, Hofeld was in the frozen water for twenty minutes. He was taken to a hospital and held overnight for observation, being treated for hypothermia and minor scrapes and bruises.
The good Samaritan left the scene before anyone could get his name. “He really saved my life. I don’t know what we would have done had he not shown up,” Hofeld said.
Hofeld has lived in Homewood since 1970 and been the mayor since 1997. According to his bio on the village website, he was “twice named “Municipal Leader of the Year” by the Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau, in 2004 and 2014, and has served as the 2011-2012 President of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association (SSMMA).”
It looks like Hofeld will have plenty to talk about during his weekly Meet the Mayor sessions at the Homewood Village Hall (2020 Chestnut Road) every Saturday from 9AM to noon.